Valdosta Daily Times

November 27, 2012

Saxby Chambliss defies tax pledge

Senator adds he remains true to conservative principles

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Following remarks last week that distanced him from an anti-tax pledge, Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss said Monday he remains true to his conservative standards.

 “I have consistently stated that, due to my conservative principles, I am not in favor of tax increases,” Chambliss said in a statement sent to The Valdosta Daily Times. “I have also consistently said I am in favor of significant tax reform to lower tax rates and generate additional revenues. Those reforms should be on the table in this debt/deficit debate. However, this would only be acceptable in return for entitlement reforms from the other side that truly fix our long-term spending problem.”

The senator was unavailable for additional comment Monday afternoon.

Last week, Chambliss told Georgia television station WMAZ that he cares more about what’s good for the country in the face of the fiscal cliff of an estimated $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to begin 2013 without presidential and congressional action rather a decades-old tax pledge made to Grover Norquist, leader of the anti-tax lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform.

A majority of Republicans have signed the taxpayer protection pledge, vowing not to raise taxes or create new taxes.

On Thursday, Chambliss told the television station, “I care more about this country than

 I do about a 20-year-old pledge. If we do it his way, then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him (Norquist) about that.”

Chambliss added, “Grover Norquist has no plan to pay this debt down. His plan says you continue to add to the debt. I just have a fundamental disagreement with him about that.”

Asked if Norquist would probably retaliate against Chambliss, the senator responded, “In all likelihood, yes.”

Thirty-nine senators and 219 House representatives have signed the anti-tax pledge, according to the Americans for Tax Reform website. In signing the pledge, congressmen agree to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and businesses” and oppose all net reductions as well as the elimination of tax deductions and tax credits unless matched precisely with cutting the tax rate.

For years, Republicans who have signed the pledge have remained in lock step to uphold its tenets. Chambliss’ comments would have been considered heresy five years ago, or even a year ago, according to numerous political analysts in various media reports. But with the Republican loss in the recent election and the pending reality of the fiscal cliff, Chambliss may be leading the charge to defy the pledge and Norquist.

This weekend, following Chambliss’ comments, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Rep. Peter King said they no longer felt obliged to follow the tax pledge. Reuters has reported that 16 new Republican congressmen have not signed the pledge.

Norquist is reportedly not worried about an overwhelming defection. The New York Times reported Norquist saying, “It’s been 22 years since a Republican voted for a tax increase in this town (Washington, D.C.). This is not my first rodeo.”